Putting a jack stand in place before crawling beneath a thousand pounds of steel is more than just a good idea. Jack stands are an important part of personal safety when working under a car. It is vital to learn good techniques for using a jack stand to significantly reduce the chance of accidental injury or death while repairing a car that is raised from the ground.
Jack stands come in several varieties.
The type of jack stand that you choose is more a matter of preference than performance. Jack stands of good quality will all serve the same function when used properly. They are designed to fit under an axle, other types of bracing under the car, or under a tire. There are fixed height and adjustable height stands available. Many people prefer to have a fixed height jack stand because there are no moving parts that can fail. Others prefer the adjustable stands so that one stand can be used in multiple height situations.
Pick the jack stand that you will use on the job.
It is best to have the jack stand ready before you begin to raise the car. This keeps you from being tempted to do the job without proper safety precautions. It will also prevent you from leaving the car sitting on the jack while you hunt for the stands. Before lifting the car with the jack, determine where the stand or stands will be positioned. In this way, it will not be necessary to lift the car more than needed before inserting the jack stand into place.
Correct positioning of the jack and jack stands under the car is critical.
Make certain that the area where the jack is located is firm and flat to prevent the jack from tipping during or after the lift. At the same time, make sure that the same type of conditions are available for the jack stand. If this type of area is not evident, reposition the vehicle if possible. You may need to use some solid pieces of wood or stone to level and reinforce the area.
Carefully raise the vehicle until the place where the jack stand will rest is slightly higher than the stand.
Move the jack stand beneath the part of the car that will be supported. If you are using an adjustable stand, raise the stand until it is high enough to touch the vehicle at a level that will allow you to access the part of the car needing repair. Once the jack stand is in place, slowly lower the jack until the vehicle is resting firmly on the stand. To maximize the safety, raise the jack until it can function as an extra stand. You should now be able to slide under the car and complete the repairs. If the jack is in the way, you can remove it as long as the vehicle is stable on the jack stands.
If you are using a ramp as a jack stand, the operation is similar.
It may be possible to drive the vehicle onto the ramp rather than having to jack it up. However, for those not used to doing this, it is easy to drive too far and drop off the backside of the ramp. Jacking up the car and positioning the ramp under the tire can be just as easy and sometimes safer. Once the ramp is in place, lower the tire onto the ramp.
Always use blocks around the tires left on the ground.
These blocks will keep the car from shifting or rolling forwards or backwards while a portion of the vehicle is up in the air. After completing the job, raise the car with the jack until the jack stand or stands can be removed. The car can then be slowly lowered to the ground. Move the blocks before attempting to drive the car.